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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • Ontario enters province-wide lockdown in effort to curb rising COVID-19 case counts.
  • Most Boxing Day shopping expected to happen online.
  • Most of Canada takes holiday pause from announcing new COVID-19 cases.
  • Millions of Americans lose jobless benefits as Trump refuses to sign aid bill
  • Have a question about COVID-19 in Canada? Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca.

A province-wide lockdown meant to bring down COVID-19 case counts takes effect today in Ontario.

The restrictions will remain in place for southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

The move was announced on Monday after the provincial government took part in emergency talks last weekend.

Under the new rules, restaurants can only provide takeout, drive-thru and delivery, including the sale of alcohol.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers that sell primarily food can stay open for in-person shopping but with distancing and limits on capacity.

When the holiday break is over, children enrolled in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools will participate in remote learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, and some longer depending on their age and area.

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Health-care workers have spent a year working through the pandemic and several ER doctors shared a united message while working during a difficult holiday season. 1:58


What’s happening in Canada

Boxing Day is supposed to be the post-Christmas shopping day that deal hunters have been waiting for, but with non-essential retail shuttered or restricted across much of the country, the usual crowded malls and long lineups are expected to be replaced with internet searches and online orders.

Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have all closed non-essential retail, while much of the rest of the country has curtailed in-store capacity.

People wear face masks as they make their way through a shopping mall in Montreal in December. In-person shopping for Boxing Day is expected to be sharply down compared to previous years. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory, says there will be fire-sale prices on some items.

She says retailers don’t want to get stuck with a backlog of holiday and seasonal inventory and also need to shore up their balance sheets in the face of mounting lockdowns and restrictions.

Most of the country did not release numbers on Christmas Day. The exception was New Brunswick, which announced one new case. The province has 43 active cases and 588 total, with eight deaths.

As of Christmas morning, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 535,243, with 76,459 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 14,720.

WATCH | Pfizer, Moderna vaccines can be modified to tackle variants: expert:

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What’s happening around the world

As of 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, more than 79.9 million coronavirus cases had been reported worldwide, with more than 45 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The global death toll stood at more than 1.7 million.

In the Americas, millions of people in the U.S. saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3-trillion US pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.

Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree on a stop-gap government funding bill.

WATCH | Is one COVID-19 vaccine better than another?

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In Europe, Hungary began vaccinating its people against COVID-19 on Saturday, a day ahead of rollouts in several other European countries. Mass vaccination across the European Union, home to almost 450 million people, would be a crucial step toward ending the pandemic. Hungary administered the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, to front-line workers at hospitals in the capital, Budapest, after receiving its first shipment of enough doses to inoculate 4,875 people. The rollout came a day before countries including France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Spain are planning to begin mass vaccinations, starting with health workers.

In Asia, South Korea posted its second-highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks at a prison, nursing homes and churches continued to grow, prompting authorities to plead for a halt to all year-end gatherings. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said there were 1,132 new coronavirus cases on Friday, not far off the record 1,241 logged a day earlier.

A pastor wearing a face mask sits among empty benches during an online Christmas service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul on Christmas Day. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, China’s capital has urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, implementing fresh restrictions after several coronavirus infections last week. Two domestic cases were reported on Friday, a convenience store worker and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise employee. Another two asymptomatic cases were discovered in Beijing earlier in the week.

Beijing is conducting testing on a limited scale in the neighbourhoods and workplaces where the cases were found. To contain any new outbreaks, the Beijing government cancelled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs.

Coronavirus infections in Tokyo hit a record daily high of 949 cases on Saturday as Japan heads into the New Year holiday, which normally sees people stream from the capital into the provinces. Serious cases were unchanged from a day earlier at 81. Local media reported subdued scenes at Tokyo transport hubs a day after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, under pressure as daily cases continue to climb, urged the nation to stay home and avoid social mixing.

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Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school

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An indigenous group in Saskatchewan on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar, smaller discovery rocked the country.

The latest discovery, the biggest to date, is a grim reminder of the years of abuse and discrimination indigenous communities have suffered in Canada even as they continue to fight for justice and better living conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina. He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters, adding that oral stories mentioned adults being buried at the site.

Delorme later told Reuters some of the graves belong to non-indigenous people who may have belonged to the church. He said the First Nation hopes to find the gravestones that once marked these graves, after which they may involve police.

Delorme said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools, mostly Catholic, run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. “This is just the beginning.”

OLD WOUNDS

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

The local Catholic archdiocese gave Cowessess First Nation C$70,000 ($56,813) in 2019 to help restore the site and identify unmarked graves, said spokesperson Eric Gurash. He said the archdiocese gave Cowessess all its death records for the period Catholic parties were running the school.

In a letter to Delorme on Thursday, Archbishop Don Bolen reiterated an earlier apology for the “failures and sins of Church leaders and staff” and pledged to help identify the remains.

Heather Bear, who went to Marieval as a day student in the 1970s and is also vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, recalled a small cemetery at the school but not of the size revealed on Thursday.

“You just didn’t want to be walking around alone in (the school),” she recalled. There was a “sadness that moves. And I think every residential school has that sadness looming.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country. Radar at Marieval found 751 “hits” as of Wednesday with a 10% margin of error, meaning at least 600 graves on the site.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Thursday was a difficult day, Delorme told Reuters. But he wants his young children to know “we will get the reconciliation one day with action like today.”

($1 = 1.2321 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

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Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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